Irlen Syndrome: Why Dave Asprey Wears Orange Glasses

Dave Asprey wearing Irlen spectral filter tinted lensesDave Asprey can be seen wearing orange colored lenses for one of two reasons. One, could be to help Irlen syndrome, the second, is to block blue light at night to protect melatonin production.

During the filming of the “The Bulletproof Life” on Creative Live, which was a very informative 3-day live TV broadcast in San Francisco, he did explain to the audience and viewers watching the actual reason why after been asked the question live on-air.

Some people initially thought it was for blocking the artificial blue light spectrum from lightbulbs and digital screens like a computer or phone. Very good guess, but they were wrong in this case.

These particular glasses may look just like these recommended blue blocking glasses; since they also have an amber or dark yellow tint. Those tinted glasses are designed to help you produce melatonin to sleep at night; this is to do with circadian rhythm.

However, the type of eyewear Dave was wearing at Creative Live was for a whole other reason that very few people think about or or know of. The real reason Dave Asprey wears orange tinted eyeglasses is because they are Irlen Method Lenses.

What is Irlen Syndrome?

Irlen syndrome (a.k.a. Scotopic Sensitivity Syndrome, Meares-Irlen Syndrome or Visual Stress) is defined as a visual perceptual processing disorder. It is not an optical disorder of sight that requires corrective lenses to improve the ability to see clearly. It is a problem within the brain centers ability to process visual information correctly. This means words on a page can appear distorted such as moving, blurry, zig zagging or the user could miss them and not see a word. It can run in the family.

History

The syndrome, method and institute are named after the founder, Helen L. Irlen, MA, LMFT. She is a trained psychologist who has been working on informing parents, school teachers and the general public on this overlooked condition, especially in children with ADHD and dyslexia. Through here perseverance and passion there is now over 30 years of medical research looking why and what happens, how to diagnose it and how to treat it.2

Credit is also given to a teacher in New Zealand, Olive Meares, who described the classical symptoms back in the 1980’s around the same time when Helen also published her findings. Both described how spatial distortions affecting reading text by some individuals could be positively helped by covering the words with see through colored overlays or filters.3

Causes

Irlen syndrome can be caused by a defect in one of the visual pathways that carries messages from the eye to the brain. This defect causes a timing fault in processing visual information. Filtering out specific wave lengths of light helps the pathway to function normally.

This is not an anatomical pathology in the brain that needs surgery. It is more of how the neurones in the brain are functioning and working to understand what it is your eyes are seeing along the optic nerve.

Symptoms

Described below are some classic symptoms that can be used an indication you may have the issue:

  • Eye Strain – easily develop fatigued or tired eyes which reduces time spent reading, or helps to causes headache or watery, red eyes.
  • Reading Problems – problems tracking sentences from line to line, misreading words or reading slowly or with hesitation.
  • Photophobia – sensitivity to bright light like indoor fluorescent light bulbs or even natural sunlight.
  • Letters Move on a Page – struggle to keep letters still and see them as moving, flashing or getting lighter/darker. Struggle with busy patterns, particularly stripes.
  • Poor Focus – maintaining attention and normal concentration levels are a problem. Struggle to keep letters in focus independent of normal poor eyesight issues like being hyperopia (far sighted) or myoptic (near sighted).
  • Trouble Writing – poor written skills like spelling, spacing and unequal letter sizing
  • Poor Depth Perception – appear clumsy and have difficulty judging distances or playing sports like catching a ball.

Here is an example of what someone might see who is struggling with the condition.

Testing and Diagnosis

You can do a quick self-test on the irlen.com website. You can see in the example how changing the background color on the website page might make reading the wording easier, more comfortable to read or even the opposite depending on the chosen color.

There are officially two types of accredited Irlen testers:

  1. Irlen Screener – this is someone trained in using the initial testing with the colored filters they overlay on a books page. They will help determine if you need to go to the next stage.
  2. Irlen Diagnostician – this a person who has been trained by the institute who can both do stage 1 screening and stage 2 diagnosis testing. They can officially recommend and order the correct color combination for your Irlen spectral filter (a.k.a Irlen lenses) that will go into your desired style of frames. So yes you can even wear them in fashionable eyewear brands frames like Oakley, which is what Dave is wearing.

If you are searching for how to find a certified screener or diagnostician near you Then there are two options. You can find practitioners in different US states by using this link. If you want to find a certified person in an international test center around the world like the UK, Europe, Asia or Australia you can use this directory here.

Who Should Wear Irlen Glasses?

Lets look at Daves’ case first. As he said in a tweet back in May 2013 after being spotted wearing his tinted sunglasses indoors during this London Real TV interview, he wears them for improved mental performance during the day.

What did he mean by custom tint for mental performance? This means is if your central nervous system (a.k.a your brain processing centers) is struggling to make optimal sense of wording and how you perceive the environment around you then you are basically wasting mental energy. You may feel physical fatigue as one of the indicators, but it could just feeling brain fog or mentally not how you want to feel.

The goal is to add lots of different positive factors that help your personal physiology. This is biohacking. So seeing the world through a colored filter tint that relaxes your brain and helps you see your surroundings as they should be seen creates less effort and bad stress on your nervous system.

Here are some common situations people could benefit from being tested and wearing lenses:

  • ADHD children or adults
  • Autism spectrum or Asperger Syndrome sufferers
  • Brain injuries like concussion syndrome from accidents
  • War veterans and those with post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Underachievers at school on their reports or in physical education classes
  • Medical conditions that are related to sensory overload or light sensitivity like:
  • Light-Induced Epilepsy
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Strokes
  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
  • Auto Immune Diseases
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Cerebral Palsy
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Viral Illnesses
  • Tourette Syndrome
  • Lyme Disease
  • Agoraphobia

So it is quite a list of people with named health conditions that might benefit. This is why getting screened is so easy to do. Not everyone should wear a pair of these special type of glasses as not everyone has the disorder.

However, even if you feel normal, but you are biohacker looking to find any extra ounce of free energy to power up your brain and body then get yourself screened for Irlen Syndrome and see if you too need custom tinted glasses.

Irlen Products Available

If you want to find out even more or try out some of the color filters you are in luck below are some more official products that you can have shipped to your door by Amazon.

Books

“The Irlen Revolution: A Guide to Changing your Perception and Your Life” is a book written by Helen herself. If you are a mum or dad worried about your child – this is for you. If you are a educator and want to know more about the issue – this is for you. If you are a educational psychologist and need more detail then this is for you. The book is about Helens journey and what she has discovered with some stories to bring the concepts to life. It begins with an summary of different learning disabilities and the standard treatments on offer for those afflicted. The next chapters then explain the Irlen Method and explore the scientific basis of it. Then to tie it all together Helen discusses the individual disorders: what they are, and how the Irlen approach may be used to treat them successfully. The book is available in either kindle or paperback 

There is also an older book titled “Reading by the Colors: Overcoming Dyslexia and Other Reading Disabilities Through the Irlen Method” which is only available in paperback.

Color Filters

These are official Irlen colored overlays used by both screeners and diagnosticians during testing. However, you can use them too at home. In this sample pack you will get one of each color so 10 color overlays in total. These are colors determined to be scientifically useful from all the years of testing and research at the institute. You can put these over study books, textbooks or any other fiction or non-fiction books. Use the overlays to see if you can read the font better and see the graphs, pictures and images without distortions. If you know your colors you can use these for yourself or see if your kids benefit. Reading some of the five star Amazon reviews you will see how people use them for helping headaches and discovering they have a case if visual stress. You can get a pack from Amazon 
Updated December 30, 2016